Beef Products Inc. is suing ABC for $1.2 billion in response to the fallout from its story that "pink slime” was oozing through much of the company's products.
The suit also names anchor Diane Sawyer and several correspondents for news reports that have allegedly caused the company harm. The negative effects from the story led to the closure of three plants and the loss of 650 jobs.
In March, weeks after ABC's first story ran, Eric Mittenthal, VP of public affairs at the American Meat Association, and Jeff Schneider, SVP at ABC News, traded barbs in a PRWeek article about the accuracy of ABC's stories and whether the network was giving adequate time to the industry to respond to the allegations.
Specifically, Mittenthal noted that for weeks, the media ran images of mechanically separated chicken when referring to finely textured beef, aka “pink slime.”
“Too many journalists took information ABC News put out on 'pink slime' and ran with it without doing their own fact checking,” Mittenthal said at the time.
In response, Schneider criticized Mittenthal's organization and another meat trade group.
“They've had very little to say; they repeat the same phrases over and over again and haven't really engaged with the questions we've had,” Schneider said.
On Thursday, Schneider said the lawsuit filed by Beef Products Inc. “is without merit and that it will “contest it vigorously."